Borussia Dortmund teenager Youssoufa Moukoko headlines Antonio Di Salvo's 23-man squad for the 2023 UEFA U21 Euros. bundesliga.com picks out five Bundesliga-based Germany youngsters to keep an eye on at the finals, which kick-off on Wednesday ...
Moukoko certainly needs no introduction after a breakout Bundesliga season, in which he almost helped Dortmund conquer the title. The 18-year-old striker contributed seven goals and three assists in 26 league outings, and would no doubt have featured more if not for an ankle injury in the spring. As well as becoming the youngest player to reach 50 Bundesliga appearances at 18 years and 139 days – celebrating the occasion in style with the winner against Union Berlin – he featured regularly in BVB's cup competitions and made his senior Germany debut against Oman in November 2022.
He is now set to act as a talisman for the U21s as they look to defend their title, along with fellow senior internationals Josha Vagnoman and Kevin Schade. "We're happy to have those three guys back in the squad as important pillars for the European championship," declared Di Salvo. Moukoko already played a key role in Germany's successful qualifying campaign, scoring six goals in just four games.
Watch: The best of Youssoufa Moukoko
A product of the Hertha Berlin youth academy, Netz made his first 11 Bundesliga outings for the Old Lady in the second half of 2020/21, before switching to Gladbach that summer. The highly rated youngster has gradually been introduced to life in the Bundesliga and hopes to become the Foals' starting left-back in 2023/24, with Algeria international Ramy Bensebaini leaving for pastures new.
"I try to show myself on the field and make the most of every minute I get," said the 20-year-old, who has featured in 44 top-flight matches over the past two seasons. The versatile Netz has often been deployed as a wing-back in front of Gladbach's three-man defence, picking up three assists in 2022/23. He also grabbed his second Bundesliga goal – and first for the Foals – in a 2-0 home win over Augsburg on the final day.
Huseinbasic's performances this season have drawn admiring glances from the Bundesliga and beyond, so it is remarkable to think that the 21-year-old had never gone higher than the fourth tier of German football before joining Cologne last summer. Unfazed by the limelight since his arrival from Kickers Offenbach, the all-action midfielder has made 24 league appearances for the Billy Goats, chipping in with four goals and an assist.
A former Eintracht Frankfurt youth player, Huseinbasic has Bosnian heritage but chose to represent the country of his birth, earning his first call-up to the Germany U21s in November 2022 and scoring on his debut against Italy. Cologne coach Steffen Baumgart is certainly keen to keep him on board, telling Bild: "Denis will continue with his development. He's from the lower leagues, but it would be nice if he wasn't just a flash in the pan, if we took the time to build him up and make him a regular in our starting XI."
Keitel's one of three Freiburg players in the squad, along with defender Kenneth Schmidt and forward Noah Weißhaupt. Although 23, eligibility rules dictate any player 21 or younger at the start of qualifiying can feature in the finals. The Freiburg central midfielder has won 12 caps for the U21s to date, chipping in with a couple of assists. He made 31 competitive appearances for Die Breisgauer in 2022/23, including 12 starts. He ranked in the 86th percentile for successful passes, and 83rd for interceptions.
"We need midfielders with a certain quality, who can deliver in the years ahead. Yannik is one of those," said Freiburg head coach Christian Streich in April 2021. "He has huge quality and can still get better. He always gives 100 percent, no matter what's going on around him," he added earlier in the 2022/23 season. "He knows how to handle difficult situations. In terms of his character, he's a top guy."
Weiper is at the other end of the age spectrum. The teenaged forward, 18, is Di Salvo's wild card, reward all the same for some impressive Bundesliga cameos with Mainz this past season. He made history as the 05ers' youngest player (17 years and 198 days) and goalscorer (17 years and 344 days), against Freiburg (Matchday 8) and Gladbach (Matchday 22) respectively, whilst helping the U19s to the league title with eight goals in as many games.
"We're very excited about Nelson Weiper, who has developed extremely well in Mainz," said the Germany U21 tactician, having called up the 18-year-old - who hit 13 goals in 15 outings for the U17s and has one in five at U18 level - to the U21s for the first time. "During the second half of the season in showed his potential to the professional team. He also played a major role in Mainz winning the German A-Junior Championship."
Germany U21 squad in full:
Christian Früchtl (Austria Vienna), Noah Atubolu (Freiburg), Nico Mantl (Aalborg)
Maximilian Bauer (Augsburg), Yann Aurel Bisseck (Aarhus), Marton Dardai (Hertha Berlin), Kilian Fischer (Wolfsburg), Henning Matriciani (Schalke), Luca Netz (Borussia Mönchengladbach), Kenneth Schmidt (Freiburg), Josha Vagnoman (Stuttgart)
Faride Alidou (Eintracht Frankfurt), Denis Huseinbasic (Cologne), Yannik Keitel (Freiburg), Ansgar Knauff (Eintracht Frankfurt), Tom Krauß (Schalke), Eric Martel (Cologne), Youssoufa Moukoko (Borussia Dortmund), Jessic Ngankam (Hertha Berlin), Kevin Schade (Brentford), Angelo Stiller (Hoffenheim), Nelson Weiper (Mainz), Noah Weißhaupt (Freiburg)
Germany will face Israel (22 June), Czech Republic (25 June) and England (28 June) in Group C. They are bidding to win their second straight Euros, after triumphing in 2019, and third overall. The finals will be staged in Romania and Georgia.
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